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Panthers rally for 3-2 OT win over Sharks

by John Kreiser

Maybe the San Jose Sharks are better off playing from behind.

After rallying in the third period to win each of their last three games, the Sharks blew a 2-0 lead on Saturday and lost 3-2 in overtime to the Florida Panthers. Shawn Mattias got the tying goal early in the third period and then set up the OT winner by winning a draw back to Bryan Allen and going to the net, screening Thomas Greiss as Allen's goal sailed part him at 2:46 for the victory.

The Panthers, still scrambling to try to get into the top eight in the East, finished 2-1-0 on a three-game trip against Western Conference teams. They are 4-1-0 in their last five games after winning in San Jose for the first time in 10 years.

The Sharks came into the game off a six-goal third period that turned a 4-2 deficit into an 8-5 win over Nashville on Thursday. Patrick Marleau set up Ryane Clowe's goal 5:32 into the game, they made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 17:46. Marleau's one-timer past Tomas Vokoun was 41st goal of the season, a career best.

"The first period, it looked like men with boys," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "Then we found our legs and got our game going and thought we did a good job coming back against arguably the best team in the league."

Added Allen: "We knew they were going to come out hard, This is a tough building to play in. They had a lot of energy and you have to give them credit, they played really well in the first period and took it to us.  

But the Sharks couldn't get another puck past Vokoun, who stopped all 30 shots he faced after the first period and finished with 37 saves.

"It felt like we could have had more than two in the first," Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. "In the second period, we didn't get pucks behind them, didn't get in on the forecheck and we didn't get any more shots. We came back a little in the third period, but it wasn't enough."

Keith Ballard gave the Panthers some life 1:02 into the second period when he swept a one-timer from the right circle past an out-of-position Greiss. Mattias tied it at 5:01 of the third when he drove to the net, picked up the rebound of Allen's shot in the slot, whirled and slid a backhander past Greiss, who was screened on the play.

"We stuck with the program and worked hard, and Vokie gave us a chance," Allen said.

The Sharks did get a point for the overtime loss, extending their lead over Chicago for first place in the Western Conference to three points. Both teams have 15 games remaining. It wasn't the outcome the Sharks wanted as they head to Anaheim for a game on Sunday that begins a six-game trip.

"We came out and had a little fire in our belly and played extremely hard in the first period," coach Todd McLellan said. "But we let it get away from us. That's the inconsistency in our game right now. Obviously they heard the message at the start but now we reversed the trend and didn't finish real well. We have to move on.

"We have to put it behind us and get ready for tomorrow."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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